When a customer walks into Pete's Coffee Shop and Restaurant downtown, they will see none other than Pete himself working the grill.
Pete's, located on Union Avenue, is a restaurant started for family and run by family, said Pete Natour, owner of the "mom and pop" restaurant."So many restaurants you go to now, they're all the same and a lot of people going in don't get the service they're supposed to," Natour said. "A mom and pop takes more respect in their business. We want to treat our customers as we want to be treated."
This attitude is shown through the service at Pete's, according to Rachel Wooliver, graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology. Wooliver said her first experience at Pete's was enough to keep her coming back for years. "I actually remember this," Wooliver said. "Pete personally told us 'good morning,' and asked us how our food was and I said it was amazing, because it was. Then he gave me a T-shirt. It was a pretty memorable experience." Natour has worked in the restaurant industry since he started at his dad's restaurant at age 13.
Pete's opened in 1986 and Natour said his intention going into it was "to get a job." He was young with a baby on the way and opened a business knowing there was a market for it. "They say it takes about two or three years to become successful," Natour said. "I couldn't wait that long. I was poor and newly married." The menu includes home-cooked meals prepared by Natour's mother, as well as other breakfast and lunch items at a quality that is hard to find, Wooliver said. She takes her friends to Pete's whenever she can. "The food is so good," Wooliver said. "It's not like your normal sit-down restaurant food. I mean, Pete basically cooks everything, so the table next to you gets food that's cooked by the same guy. He does a really good job."
Natour said he puts good food on the table, makes customers feel like family and caters to the working person with reasonable prices."My motto is 'have reasonable prices and do the volume,'" Natour said. "I would rather stay in business and make less money than make more money and not be in business for so long."
Wooliver, who has worked in Market Square throughout college, said that the importance of family is apparent while visiting Pete's. "A lot of times you forget how important family really is and you go into Pete's and you see them working together," Wooliver said. "They trust each other, they rely on each other and they work hard, so it's really good to see that.
"The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch hours only and closes on Sundays so Natour can spend time with his family. "I wanted to do breakfast and lunch because I saw how little time my father spent with me and my brothers and sisters," Natour said. "Whenever I did see him at home he was tired and asleep so I didn't want that for my children. I was able to take them to practices and games, you know, just enjoy the time I have with them.
"Time flies. So I was happy and they appreciated that as well."
Natour's wife, Rita, works during lunch and their children have had their share of working time. Natour said it was important that his children know the value of a dollar and realize how hard their parents work. The Pete's staff has been there for 16 to 27 years and Natour said he was successful because he put good food on the tables, hired good people and knows his customers on a first name basis. "[Customers] come because it's a mom and pop," Natour said. "They see me, the owner, here every day fixing their sandwiches.
"They see hard working folks trying to make a living and I think they appreciate that."